It’s that blooming time of year again in Santa Fe, when trees around the city begin to burst with pink and white blossoms and daffodils pop up, creating a vibrant yellow border in front of The City Different's iconic adobe walls. Soon the wisteria vines will be cascading with purple flowers and the mighty cottonwoods will be leafy green again. As the spring season descends on The City Different, our thoughts turn to stunning outdoor spaces, lush gardens, and scenic natural preserves.
If you think Santa Fe is all juniper and sagebrush, you are in for a wonderful surprise! For those interested in the flora and fauna and who enjoy spending time outdoors, be sure to include a visit to one of these Santa Fe gardens.
Santa Fe Botanical Gardens at Museum Hill
Sitting just below the buildings of Santa Fe’s Museum Hill area and spanning both sides of the Arroyo de los Pinos, the Santa Fe Botanical Garden hosts plants that are both native to the region and those that have been historically cultivated by people living in the area for more than 400 years. In the peak growing season, April through October, the garden is open seven days a week from 9 am to 5 pm.
The Ojos y Manos: Eyes and Hands section of the garden is a place to explore ethnobotany, the shared history of humans and plants in Northern New Mexico, where you will witness seasonal crops traditionally cultivated by Native people.
The Santa Fe Botanical Garden offers many special events and programs throughout the year, so be sure to check the website in advance of your trip for opportunities to do yoga, Tai Chi, see Shakespeare performances, enjoy concerts, go on walking tours, or just relax with a family picnic.
Randall Davey Audubon Center
The Randall Davey Audubon Center & Sanctuary encompasses 135 acres of varied landscape, bounded by thousands of acres of National Forest and Santa Fe River Watershed land. Located just 3.5 miles (a 10 minute drive) from historic downtown Santa Fe, the Center is paradise for a birder or outdoor enthusiast. Bring your binoculars and get ready to explore ecosystems that range from riverside riparian areas to piñon-juniper woodland to meadows to Ponderosa pine forests. And be prepared for a variety of wildlife, including approximately 190 species of birds! Don't miss the whiteboard out in front of the Nature Store that tallies the various wildlife seen in recent days!
The Randall Davey Audubon Center is open Monday–Saturday, 8 am to 4 pm with very helpful and knowledgeable volunteers on hand. Each Friday, there's the opportunity for a docent-led tour of the historic Randall Davey House and Studio (call ahead to reserve). Every Saturday morning at 8:30 am, the Center offers a free guided bird walk led by expert volunteer birders, one of the best ways to get to know the local birds and witness them in their natural habitat.
Santa Fe Garden Club Tours
The Santa Fe Garden Club was founded in 1939 and is a member of the prestigious national Garden Club of America. Over the years, the Club has been active in installing and designing gardens at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the New Mexico Museum of Art, and the Museum of Spanish Colonial Arts, as well as at the Santa Fe Botanical Garden. Signature tours include Behind Adobe Walls (July 18 and July 25, 2023) in which participants are transported by shuttle bus to four unique and seldom-seen private residences, with refreshments served at each garden on the tour. Tickets are $125 and lunch is an optional add-on.
The Garden Club also offers private tours for smaller groups of up to 28 people, called Pequeño Home & Garden Tours, which can be arranged by reservation any time mid-April to mid-October. Your group will enjoy three homes and gardens on a three to four hour tour hosted by a Santa Fe Garden Club member. Each tour includes information about the residences, as well as stories of historic Santa Fe. You can't go wrong with either tour and it will further make you pleased to know that annual proceeds continue to support a variety of community projects in the areas of conservation, horticulture, flower arranging, education, and programs specifically designed for school-aged children.
This award-winning 11-acre park in the heart of Santa Fe is a must visit. Not only does it connect neighborhoods, act as an ideal community gathering spot, and conserve open space in an otherwise dense urban center, the horticultural stewardship via the Railyard Park Conservancy is something to behold. You will love the cultivated gardens and landscapes, and if you're lucky you might witness a Goat Grazing Day! Make sure to bring the kids—the modern play spaces and structures, as well as the rolling grass area are ideal for the wee ones. A perfect day could be a stroll through the Santa Fe Farmers' Market in the morning, a fresh picnic breakfast or lunch in Railyard Park, and then a peek into neighboring SITE Santa Fe. If you're still up for more, check out the contemporary museums in the Railyard Arts District and then stop off at a neighborhood eatery before heading back to your lodging.
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